Leaders in the Limelight: Maggie Leon

Written By

Susan Jacobs

September 21, 2018

My name: Maggie Leon

My company: Pegasystems 

My title: Director of Technical Curriculum Enablement 

My location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Maggie Leon

Best business advice I ever received: I attended a workshop facilitated by Janine Driver. Janine is CEO of the Body Language Institute. During the session she talked about authenticity and being your one true self. She challenged the group to think about this and make a conscience effort not to present the representative version of ourselves, but instead our true selves at every interaction with spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers, etc.

I really did think about that. At the time I was going by my legal name at work: Maria. But my family and friends have always called me Maggie, and I was Maggie everywhere except at work. The Maria version of me was quieter, always professional, and a super rule-follower. The Maggie version of me was funny, opinionated, and creative. I decided sometime after that session that I didn’t want a split personality anymore.

I attempted to be more of my true self at work. To be honest, it is not possible to do it all of the time. For example, I still act one way with my husband and another way with my son. (I mean let’s be real … I am always going to be my son’s mama!) Through that effort, though, I realized that I was conforming to the environment and holding back parts of myself that could have added value to the workplace … had I shared them. I do not do that anymore.

Most daring personal career move: I had been at a job for 10 years. I loved my team and felt valued by the company. However, I was extremely bored with my job. Yes, I was good at it, and I was successful, but it took very little brain effort for me to do the work. A job opportunity came along that I knew would challenge me. However, after I reviewed the job description I almost talked myself out of applying for it. The new position was more senior and had a broader scope of responsibility. There were parts of the job description for which I had no experience. But there were definitely areas that I knew I could do.

There was enough interest in my resume for the company’s sourcer to move me on to the recruiter. After talking to the recruiter, there was enough interest to have me talk to the hiring manager. The more I talked to people and learned about the job, the more I wanted the job and the more I believed I could do it.

I also made an effort to be my true self. I told them my name was Maria but that I preferred to be called Maggie. I also shared more of my personal life with them. For example, during the interview process I was asked to do a presentation on any topic of my choosing. I chose to present on elements of a song. During the interview I sang for the interview team. I think that was the first time any of them had heard a candidate sing during an interview. Needless to say, I got the job, and it has been a great decision. 

What I’m most proud of: In addition to my corporate gig, I am a singer/songwriter. Making the Grammy ballot in 2013 was pretty special for me. I was on the ballot in three categories: R&B Performance, Traditional R&B Performance, and R&B Song. I did not win, but being on the ballot was amazing.

Current workplace challenge: The speed at which technology is changing is my biggest challenge. The demand for curriculum that is current is tough when the current state doesn’t last for more than three to four months. 

Something people don’t know about me: People who meet me now in life meet a successful corporate professional. I am outspoken, determined, passionate, and extremely social. But growing up I was very shy. We spoke Spanish at home, so I didn’t really learn to speak English until kindergarten. We moved around a lot as well, so I never really got to make friends. It wasn’t until I got to college that I started to come out of my shell. When I started performing in musicals and with a choir, the confusion of some family members and friends was real. They had never heard me sing! 

Editor’s note

Maggie Leon will be participating in The eLearning Guild’s second annual Executive Forum on October 23, 2018. This special one-day experience, which takes place prior to the Guild’s DevLearn 2018 Conference & Expo, is designed for senior learning and development leaders who want to collaborate with peers and industry experts on cutting-edge strategies that address the key challenges of the modern learning organization. Join Maggie and other senior executives at this exclusive event.

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